By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has said it is a risk for Zimbabwe to conduct the 2022 population census only a year before the 2023 general election as the situation in the country would be politically charged.
The 2012 national census had some irregularities after State security agents disrupted training of census numerators ahead of the 2013 elections.
Presenting a UNFPA proposed budget for the 2022 census to development partners, UNFPA programme specialist, Piason Mlambo said by holding the census in 2022, this could politicise the process.
“There is need for advocacy with all stakeholders including government, donors and other development partners,” he said.
“Particular advocacy efforts will be directed at the government ministries and departments responsible for national security some of whose members caused disruption to the training of numerators in 2012 census.
“There is uncertainty on political stability as the country moves towards harmonised elections in 2023 and advocacy particularly with donors and political parties will be undertaken to de-link the census from political processes.”
Mlambo added that another was lack of donor interest to support the census given other similar data collection exercises which might be carried out during the census period.
“Continued foreign exchange shortages and macro-economic instability which would result in inadequate government funding for pre-enumeration activities. This may affect efficient and implementation of the census.”
He said there was need for the Finance Ministry to keep the census budget at a minimum.
“The census budget will be kept to an absolute minimum while the principles of value for money will be held. Resource mobilisation efforts targeting the private sector, donor and development partners will be intensified.”
UNFPA said the government of Zimbabwe was committed to providing funds for the population census but will certainly not be able to fully meet the costs, as US$85 451 099 million is required.
“As per proposed budget by source of funds government of Zimbabwe has committed to meet 83% of census budget. UNPFA and government counts on development partners’ generous financial and material assistance to cover the funding gap of US$14.8 million.”
“For accountability and more cost-effective reporting to development partners, we propose establishment of a pooled donor fund for the 2022 census to be managed by UNFPA,” said Mlambo.